Returning workers face crisis of confidence

As the country and industry gradually returns to a semblance of normality, many people who have been away from the workplace on furlough for over a year are facing a crisis of confidence, according to a new report.

Working from home is obviously different from being placed on furlough, where staff have not been working for their companies for a long period of time.

Furlough has had a devastating effect on many, who have spent time away from the team that gave a sense of belonging.

Paying people to do nothing also disincentivises them from seeking alternative work that might be better for them in the long term.

According to the report by Vodaphone, almost two fifths (37 per cent) of people returning to work after a year away experience a loss in confidence, creating more concerns for workplaces post-coronavirus and beyond.

Extended periods away from the workplace has a gendered impact on the population as women were found to be almost twice as likely (42 per cent) to report a knock in their confidence at work than men (24 per cent).

Re-acclimatising to working life also proved challenging for 31 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men.

The findings urged employers to offer more support to their under-confident, returning workers – those potentially returning from furlough in the coming months, as well as employees that may have taken career breaks.

Doing so would not only benefit the people returning but business and the wider economy, said Helen Lamprell, general counsel and external affairs director at Vodafone UK.

“Supporting returners helps organisations bridge skills shortages and improve retention and diversity, while supporting those individuals and the wider economy,” she said.

“As workplaces continue to adapt and evolve, it is the responsibility of employers to support returners both while they are away and once they return.”

As women are more likely to take a career break for caring responsibilities and find the cost of childcare more challenging than men (46 per cent of women vs 23 per cent of men) it is vital that they especially receive support.

Clare Corkish, HR director at Vodafone UK, told HR magazine: “This report draws attention to the need for support for those re-entering the workforce, especially women, given the disproportionate challenges faced by female returners.

“Whilst the findings of the new report are relevant for those returning to work post-COVID, they also reflect the feelings of people who have been absent from work or who have taken an extended career break.”

The report called on Government to allocate part of the £2.5 billion National Skills Fund to help returners develop their skills, and suggested employers be more open-minded about gaps on prospective employees’ CVs.

For help and advice on matters relating to employment law issues, contact Joanna Alexiou on joanna.alexiou@mackrell.com or at 0207 240 0521

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Joanna Alexiou

Joanna Alexiou

Associate Solicitor at Mackrell.Solicitors
Joanna joined the firm’s Employment Law team in February 2020 having previously worked at another prominent firm of solicitors in the heart of London. Joanna has worked with clients from the finance, technology, arts and culture, marketing, charity and food and drink sectors.